My House Events Founder Barrie Schwartz on How She Manages Work-Life Integration Her Own Way
Phase 1 -The Organic Beginning:
I started my company, My House Events, in 2011. When I say started it, I absolutely do not mean I hit the ground running thinking that I was starting a company. I was 21 years old, had just moved to New Orleans where I knew nobody and was like most college grads especially after the recession- confused and not finding any work outside of waitressing.
The company that is today is a team of five with over 70 events a year was absolutely nothing like that when it first started. At the time of its ideation, I was waitressing and started putting on dinner parties with people working in the kitchen as a way to meet people, have fun and give the chefs a creative outlet to express themselves.
Since the company started as a very big natural mesh that became life and work at the same time, balance was never really something I thought about. I just naturally had a work life integration.When I would go out to bars, restaurants or anywhere social I would seek out people who wanted to cook for dinner parties, make sausage for sausage making class, basically anything. My brain was always spinning and I was having fun and making side money outside of waitressing.
Schedule really wasn’t a thing for me as I was having so much fun that I didn’t really ever think about work-life balance. It all felt like exploratory fun to me.
Phase 2 – Work Life Integration
As I got older, around 23, I wanted to take my career more seriously and I began exploring the idea of opening a food truck lot in New Orleans. I started asking everybody I knew what they thought about this and stalking businesses in the small local food truck scene.
La Cocinita, a truck in New Orleans, not only liked the idea but actually offered me a job on their truck while I got things started. As I started working more with food trucks and on the truck I began to get the sense that I was onto something with my business.
I realized there was a gap between the tourism industry in New Orleans and the event planners/venues that always want awesome catering ideas and the world of chefs at their events. I also realized that there were new economic opportunities available to chefs through meeting new audiences. This also marks the time where I understood I needed more balance and had to separate work and life. It was all beginning to blend into one. I began making more specific timelines for myself, focusing and trying not to work on the weekends. As a Virgo, having a schedule and routine really helps me stay balanced.
I also met my business partner Danielle and boyfriend, who is originally from Spain, at this time.
Meeting both of them gave me a whole new sense of structure. Danielle has a very different way of organizing her time and also had a full time job at the time so structure was necessary when we first started working together. My boyfriend has a totally different ideology about work life balance. Being with someone who has a European attitude has been great for me as I think about how much I let work define me.
Phase 3 – Work Life Balance
As things have shifted, responsibilities have expanded, I’ve gotten older and I definitely work hard to push myself to separate work and life. That is hard in such a small town like New Orleans!
Currently, as Founder and Chief Experience Officer of My House Events, I am driven by our mission to create economic and creative work opportunities for our chefs that not only give back to the individual chefs, but impact the larger culinary community as a whole. Such as Chef Erica of Just Delights who has just opened her first brick and mortar in New Orleans and says, “My House Events has connected me with audiences and clients I would have otherwise not been able to serve while supporting the growth of my catering services. My House Events provides a mechanism for New Orleanians to participate in the industries that have previously been inaccessible to smaller local businesses.“
Together across over 70 events this past year alone, we have been able to generate significant revenue for more than 65 talented chefs and feed more than 10,000 guests. That’s a busy year and work life balance is more important than ever. I work hard to work on the business and not in the business as much as possible. I also believe that the less stressed and more balanced I am, the more balanced the team will be and the less burnout will happen. We enforce policies such as taking weekdays off when you work weekends, flexible and unlimited vacation, 3 months paid maternity leave and more.